Title

Hagiography and History in the Icelandic Saga of Edward the Confessor

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

This article investigates the historical context of Jatvarðar saga, the Icelandic saga of the English saint, King Edward the Confessor (d. 1066). Compiled from a variety of Norse and Latin sources, the saga survives in four medieval manuscripts and demonstrates a persistent interest in Edward’s life and legacy. Yet although the saga has often been categorized as a saint’s life, there is no evidence that Edward was the subject of an Icelandic cult; moreover, the text focuses extensively on political history and lacks the hallmarks of Old Norse hagiographical writing. Accordingly, I propose that Jatvarðar saga was not composed as a devotional text. Instead, I argue that Edward was portrayed as a model of lay piety who supported the Church and clergy—a valuable exemplar for Icelandic magnates at a time of ecclesiastical reform.

Document Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1484/J.VIATOR.5.103502

Publication Information

Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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